What is the best way to save? – A.G., Maryland
Some of you readers may feel, “I don’t make enough money to save.”
If you are spending more than you are making (credit card debt) or you are making just enough to cover your basic needs I certainly understand that you don’t have money to save. For people who are not in that position the main thing that impacts ability to save is how high of a priority it is.
Would you rather spend $2 on average per day on coffee or have $119,754 in 40 years? (based on 6% annual interest rate, from http://finishrich.com/lattefactor/)
You may say yes and you may say no. I don’t judge you either way. There are many things I would rather experience today than have lots of money later. However there are other things I choose to go without. What I want for you is to know your priorities and to make an intentional and conscious choice versus an unconscious one.
Is your spending aligned with your priorities? Are there things you would like to spend money on, or save money for, that you are not currently putting any money towards? There is probably something that you are spending a significant amount of money on that is not as high of a priority that you could cut back on.
Would you rather eat at home, versus dining out for 20 dinners, and then have enough money saved to fly to see a friend or family?
When you spend your money you are making a statement about what your priorities are.
When it comes to saving:
1. Be specific about your saving.
What are you saving for? Is this a high priority for you? For help clarifying your priorities do this prioritization exercise. Sometimes we feel like “oh, I should be saving more money,” but we do not have a clear idea of what we would be saving for. If you are passionate about traveling and create a savings account called “travel,” you very likely will be more motivated to put money into that account.
Use www.mint.com or track your expenses yourself. If you don’t know where your money is going it is impossible to check to see if your spending is aligned with your priorities.
3. Set up multiple savings accounts if need be.
www.ingdirect.com makes it really easy to set up multiple savings accounts. You can link these savings accounts to your checking account and set up transfers electronically. Some examples of my savings accounts are “travel,” “gifts,” “healthcare,” and “fun.” For research about the savings accounts with the best interest rates, I recommend searching www.bankrate.com.
4. Make it automatic.
Create an automatic savings plan. When the money is taken out of your account automatically then you don’t have to worry about remembering to transfer the money manually. When the money is moved to another account then you can’t as easily spend it. All my savings are set up automatically and I recommend this to all of my clients. David Bach has a great book about automatic saving called The Automatic Millionaire, if you are interested, check it out.
“Putting aside as little as a few dollars a day for your future rather than spending it on little purchases such as lattes, bottled water, fast food, cigarettes, magazines and so on, can really make a difference between accumulating wealth and living paycheck to paycheck,” says David Bach. Check out his Latte Factor calculator to see where you could possibly save a few dollars per day.
5. Start small - It is better to save $5 per week automatically then starting aggressively and having to withdraw the money and start the cycle over. The objective is to consistently save and not have to withdraw it for living expenses. If you need to start small do so! Then as you make more or find other areas to cut back, you can increase the amount.
Would you like to have your question answered? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.